And we’re rolling! I’ve been back in Sydney for a few weeks now and earlier this month I took a trial class at myBJJ, an international Brazilian jiu-jitsu school founded by Mario Yokoyama and headquartered in Camperdown.
I had been referred here by Petros Menelaou, a fellow patron of Darkside Gym and an instructor in MMA and BJJ, after joining one of his myBJJ Sydenham classes on the Darkside mats.
(If you’re out of the BJJ loop, here’s a post that sorts out some jiu-jitsu jargon)
Darkside, where I go to punch people, is primarily a boxing gym with a number of Muay Thai and mixed-martial arts classes–all of which I tried and reviewed earlier in the year.
Recently, they brought in three instructors from myBJJ to teach jiu-jitsu, no-gi, and MMA all throughout the week.
Loving the session Petros invited me to join in Sydenham some time ago, I was eager to check out the myBJJ headquarters upon my return to Australia earlier this month.
myBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team
What strikes me time and again about martial arts schools is the overriding spirit of family and this self-defense school was no exception.
It can be challenging to walk through a new set of gym doors as a stranger–much less as a beginner–and get on the mats with unfamiliar faces.
However, from the warm welcome I received at the door of the myBJJ Camperdown Headquarters to the friendly salute at the start of the class, it didn’t take long at all for me to feel entirely at ease in this new environment.
My Trial Class Experience
I made an appointment to try Fundamental BJJ and was given a gi to use for the class. Before the lesson began, I was pointed to the code of conduct, which outlines the school’s etiquette and facilitates the respectful and harmonious environment I’ve come to love in martial arts schools.
The fundamentals session was geared toward beginners and took a very practical self-defense based approach to the art of jiu-jitsu. The instructor did explain that the focus shifts to the competitive side of the sport as students advance to higher levels.
Salvador, the instructor for this lesson, was wonderfully friendly and did an excellent job explaining each of the moves in an approachable and engaging way. Learning and practicing them was a lot of fun but arguably what made the strongest impression was witnessing head instructor Mario present Salvador with his black belt at the end of the lesson.
It would be futile to attempt describing the significance of an event such as this but suffice to say it was a beautiful and intimate moment to share with the class.
On another note, I was somewhat surprised that there was no whipping involved as my first experience watching a BJJ class at B.A.M.F. in Manila when I started this journey about a year ago ended with two students being whipped multiple times by everyone else’s before being awarded their newly earned blue belts. Needless to say, it made an impression–as did this distinctly different experience.
What You’ll Learn in a Fundamental BJJ Lesson
The fundamental jiu-jitsu classes at myBJJ begin by teaching you how to defend yourself in practical situations.
For example, you might begin standing across from an opponent who is swinging at you and learn how to get them on the ground and bring them to submission via an easily executed lapel choke.
The instructor will teach you how to handle this opponent, not by running away or swinging back but by covering your head, stepping in toward their chest, and neutralizing your attacker’s ability to swing at you. From there, you’ll go to takedowns and submissions.
Other moves will take you from lying on the ground to sweeping, gaining mount, and submitting an attacker.
In one such sequence, you’ll start with your back on the ground and an attacker standing over you. From there, you learn how to defend yourself and control the assailant with your legs and feet, grab hold of their sleeves, and sweep them so that you can gain a dominant position and once again submit them–possibly with a forearm choke or a kimura chicken wing. (I’m improvising a little with the names here.)